Emmanuel Episcopal welcomes first female priest

Published 8:00 pm Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, the little church on the corner in Franklin, is in transition, developing a new look, community outreach and welcoming a new spiritual leader, according to a church news release.

Celebrating its 141st year, Emmanuel has called its first female priest to leadership as it changes and grows toward the future. 

“We are so very honored to introduce the Rev. Jean Mackay Vinson to the Franklin community,” church officials said.

Reverend Jean, as some have begun to call her, was ordained an Episcopal priest on Dec. 21, 2022, at Emmanuel with Bishop Susan Haynes, bishop of the Diocese of Southeastern Virginia, presiding. 

Attending the ceremony were more than 100 parishioners, guests and clergy. 

“With all participating clergy dressed in red vestments, the church lit with candlelight and the wreaths already hung for the Christmas season, the event was one of the most beautiful this parishioner has ever witnessed,” Vicki Brown said. “The music, led by organist Jane Gibson, the sanctuary bursting with joyous people and the rippling excitement of having our bishop with us were reminiscent of days gone by when the church was always bustling with activity.”

The baseball players in the film Field of Dreams whispered to Kevin Costner’s character, “If you build it, they will come.” 

“Emmanuel is building it,” church officials stated. “Jesus said in John 1:39 when some followers asked where he was dwelling, ‘Come, and you will see.’ Jesus is hanging out at Emmanuel. At Christmastime, we all love singing, ‘O Come, All Ye Faithful.’ So, let’s do that.”

Reverend Jean is married to Dr. Steve Vinson, a retired pediatrician. They have two grown children who live in other states and a golden retriever named Misty. 

Though a resident of Virginia Beach for 29 years, Jean grew up in Michigan. Church officials noted that she prefers small towns to city life, so she is feeling very at home in Franklin. 

With a background in marketing, Jean is the founder of a small publishing firm called JAMSBooks, which designs, illustrates and prints educational coloring books for children and families in developing countries like Haiti, Honduras and Ghana. Through the firm’s work, more than 180,000 JAMSBooks have been distributed throughout several continents.

Reverend Jean attended Virginia Theological Seminary from 2019-22. 

“Though only recently attending seminary, Jean has sensed God’s call throughout her life, starting at age 8 during her foundational Roman Catholic spiritual formation,” church officials stated.

Emmanuel has a new mission statement, “moving forward.” 

“The past few months have been delightful as we have been getting to know Jean, Steve and Misty,” church officials said. “We think you are going to see some changes as we live into Reverend Jean’s vision for our parish and our community. We are confident that with prayer and action, God will show up in refreshing ways at Emmanuel. See you soon!”